Gone Girl – Book Review

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Written by: Gillian Flynn
Published by: Crown

Gone Girl is a story of a missing woman, a suspected murder and her wrongly accused husband. Amy Elliot is the girl in question, though nearing her forties, she hardly qualifies as a girl. Amy is married to Nick Dunne and the two live in New York where they enjoy the most glamorous of all fictional careers–they’re writers. The drawn out description we’re given regarding Amy and Nick’s life is painfully tedious. Yes we realize they’re beautiful, intelligent and successful in life. And yes we also know to expect a fall-out fairly soon. The book begins in the mid-noughties so the references to current events are still fresh in most of our minds. The recession is looming over everyone; the Internet is destroying print journalism, etc. Even Amy’s wealthy parents, who made their millions from kids books about their daughter “Amazing Amy,” lose their vast fortune.

The tag line for the book, “There are two sides to every story,” refers to the fact that we see their world from both Amy’s and Nick’s eyes. Amy gives us their relationship’s background through her diary whereas Nick kicks off in the present: the day Amy goes missing. This adds further (intended) confusion as sometimes the two stories completely contradict each other presenting a “Who should we believe?” sort of quandary.

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The Gathering – Book Review

Gathering by Anne Enright

Written by: Anne Enright
Published by: Vintage

Many Irish writers are preoccupied with what has affected them their whole life: the Irish family. Described by everyone from Samuel Beckett to Cecelia Ahern, there is no escape from this fundamental part of our society.

Enright chooses the fourteen member Hegarty clan to really convey the many faces of Irish people. In her fictional family, there is a priest (albeit he wants to leave the priesthood), an alcoholic and a deranged housewife–to name but a stereotypical few. At the heart of this huge family is the Irish Mammy. Enright’s Mammy Hegarty differs though, in that she is not the boisterous, headstrong leader that many Irish mothers are. She is meek, weighed down by her children (both dead and alive) and as time progresses, she is only too happy to let them take care of her instead.

The story is told through the eyes of Veronica Hegarty, one of the children. Enright almost immediately introduces Veronica’s brother Liam and his recent death. What ensues is Veronica’s various emotions of distress, mourning, guilt and reflection on the troubled childhood she had with Liam. Veronica acknowledges that Liam’s death is most likely connected to a terrible incident that occurred many years ago at their grandmother’s home. This incident is referred to vaguely up until halfway through when she actually reveals it. The exposure is skillful because it slips in almost casually without being thrown in your face. Read a line ahead and you’d nearly miss it completely.

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Suite Fran̤aise РBook Review

Written by: Irène Némirovsky
Translated by: Sandra Smith
Published by: Vintage Books

The Russian author Némirovsky was forced to flee Paris during the German occupation in 1940. She decided to write a book that would honestly depict the horrific situation that she and thousands of other ordinary people were suffering through. In a setting like occupied France, a semi-autobiographical novel packs a much stronger punch than any celebrity’s fabulous life story. I wrote my French thesis on Phillipe Grimbert’s novel Un Secret, which told the fate of his Jewish family during World War II. After this, I thought I had covered most of the topic but there is still so much to learn.

Némirovsky, despite being of Russian Jewish descent, chose to depict the struggles of non-Jewish Parisians because that is what she experienced. The book introduces five or six main characters and their families and how they face the occupation by the Germans. Many of the characters are cleverly linked together and this continues throughout the book. She artfully portrays a country and its citizens being turned upside down by chaos. True human nature is exposed as people beg, borrow and steal to survive in a war-torn country with decreasing provisions, money and hope.

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The Master by Colm Tóibín – Book Review

The Master by Colm Toibin

Written by: Colm Tóibín (pronounced “Toebeen”)
Published by: Picador

Colm Tóibín has become an award-winning novelist with his book The Master, which won the IMPAC Prize, the Los Angeles Times Novel of the Year and the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger in 2005. It was also short-listed for the Man Booker Prize 2004.

Wexford-born Colm tells the story of the great American novelist Henry James. James moves to England permanently after he tires of his upper-class American society peers. He believes that Europe is far more enriched in history and art than his own homeland.

Tóbín’s style is remarkable. He uses the genre of “biography” and turns it into a fictional novel. Instead of sticking to the more journalistic method of finding facts and laying them out, Colm makes it easier to read by writing this fantastic tale of Henry James’ life. Obviously, the writer is the subject matter for the book. The themes deal in a range spanning life, love, loss, fear, death, happiness, pain and loneliness; all of which inspire writers on a daily basis.

James’ struggle with the loss of so many loved ones features a great deal as he has lost most of his family members and one of his closest friends. One prominent theme throughout the novel is James’ repressed homosexuality. At a time when Oscar Wilde was on trial for his promiscuous behaviour, it was near to impossible for him to even hint at his true self publicly.

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Deaf Sentence – Book Review

Deaf Sentence

Written by: David Lodge
Published by: Penguin

Widge’s Note: Everyone, please welcome new book reviewer Orla.

In Deaf Sentence, David Lodge has portrayed the difficulties posed by being hard of hearing exactly as one would expect them to be. And worse. He looks at Desmond Bates, a linguistics lecturer and his gradual decline into inevitable deafness.

Mundane daily activities are broken down as bigger and scarier challenges that most of us wouldn’t think twice about. For example, Bates had to retire early from the university because he could no longer hear his students’ questions. He has a special phone installed in his house. He has to wear a hearing aid as soon as he gets up so he can converse with his wife at breakfast. He often goes through entire conversations with strangers nodding blankly because he is too embarrassed to interrupt and confess his dilemma. Bates is a curmudgeonly man who lost his first wife to cancer. Having remarried to a divorcée Winnifred, eight years his junior, he has another chance at married life. But she soon overshadows him with her blossoming career and hectic schedule. She doesn’t have time to repeat everything she says to him anymore.

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